Reminder of: reason for eggplant’s name
OH MY GOD I HAVE WONDERED ABOUT THIS MY WHOLE LIFE
Reminder of: reason for eggplant’s name
OH MY GOD I HAVE WONDERED ABOUT THIS MY WHOLE LIFE
It’s been 17 years since Dolly the sheep was cloned from a mammary cell. And now scientists applied the same technique to make the first embryonic stem cell lines from human skin cells.
Ever since Ian Wilmut, an unassuming embryologist working at the Roslin Institute just outside of Edinburgh stunned the world by cloning the first mammal, Dolly, scientists have been asking – could humans be cloned in the same way? Putting aside the ethical challenges the question raised, the query turned out to involve more wishful thinking than scientific success. Despite the fact that dozens of other species have been cloned using the technique, called nuclear transfer, human cells have remained stubbornly resistant to the process.
Until now. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University and his colleagues report in the journal Cell that they have successfully reprogrammed human skin cells back to their embryonic state. The purpose of the study, however, was not to generate human clones but to produce lines of embryonic stem cells. These can develop into muscle, nerve, or other cells that make up the body’s tissues. The process, he says, took only a few months, a surprisingly short period to reach such an important milestone.
Nuclear transfer involves inserting a fully developed cell – in Mitalipov’s study, the cells came from the skin of fetuses – into the nucleus of an egg, and then manipulating the egg to start dividing, a process that normally only occurs after it has been fertilized by a sperm. After several days, the ball of cells that results contains a blanket of embryonic stem cells endowed with the genetic material of the donor skin cell, which have the ability to generate every cell type from that donor. In Dolly’s case, those cells were allowed to continue developing into an embryo that was then transferred to a ewe to produce a cloned sheep. But Mitalipov says his process with the human cells isn’t designed to generate a human clone, but rather just to create the embryonic stem cells. These could then be manipulated to create heart, nerve or other cells that can repair or treat disease.
“I think this is a really important advance,” says Dieter Egli, an investigator at the New York Stem Cell Foundation. “I have a very high confidence that versions of this technique will work very well; it’s something that the field has been waiting for.” Egli is among the handful of scientists who have been working to perfect the technique with human cells and in 2011, succeeded in producing human stem cells, but with double the number of chromosomes. In 2004, Woo Suk Hwang, a veterinary scientist at Seoul National University, claimed to have succeeded in achieving the feat, but later admitted to faking the data. Instead of generating embryonic stem cell lines via nuclear transfer, Hwang’s group produced the stem cells from days-old embryos, a technique that had already been established by James Thomson at University of Wisconsin in 1998.
WHAT IF OTHER PLANETS WERE AS CLOSE TO US
AS OUR OWN MOON?
Illustrator and author Ron Miller sought to answer the question visually. And - visually - it would be stunning. But …
These visualizations show only what it would look like in the instant before the gravity of those planets caused Earth (and us) some major tectonic difficulty. At least major tectonic difficulty.
All visualizations by Ron Miller @ Black Cat Studios
MARS Diameter 6,792 km | 4,220 miles
VENUS Diameter 12,104 km | 7,521 miles
NEPTUNE Diameter 49,244 km | 30,599 miles
When a man and a woman are in love and get married, they decide to show their love by participating in the most heinous of acts. Sexual intercourse. They turn off all the lights and the man inserts his rod of evil into the woman’s hole of Satan. They must use the missionary position, as it is improper for the male to face the Lord when humping about and making sex faces.
The male thrusts back and forth for nearly a minute until his penis ejaculates seminal fluid into the vaginal cavity. This unleashes several hundred million little spermies all hellbent on finding an egg and making your life a whole lot more expensive. These guys are excellent swimmers too. Once a sperm is in motion it is then officially a spermatozoon. That’s a fun word. Spermatozoooooooon. Spermatozoooooooooooooon.
The millions of spermatozoa (plural of spermatozoooooon) swim their way up the fallopian tubes. They target an egg and ram their spermy little heads into it. Most of them die from head trauma, but sometimes a lucky little tadpole breaks through and takes up residence inside the ovum…creating an embryo.
Depending on your religious beliefs, this is when life begins or it is just a couple of cells that could develop into a wittle baby. If you are a penguin, you really don’t care either way because your brain is unable to comprehend complex concepts.
Once these two parts have bonded, the embryo does its best to attach to the uterine wall so it can begin dividing and conquering the mama’s belly. You must of course feed this little embryo all sorts of strange things. Like pickles and ice cream. Or peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches.
Over the next 9 months those two cells divide into billions of cells creating a fetus.
If you take a picture of this fetus inside the tummy, it will look like an alien creature.
This is normal. You do not have an alien baby.
Then the day comes. The amniotic sac ruptures and the fluid is evacuated out of the vagina. Now…they call this “breaking water,” and even though that fluid is mostly water, there are also proteins, carbohydrates, and even a little pee in it. So if she broke water on your couch, I would give that a decent scrubbing after. Or at least turn the cushion over.
Junior is now ready to squeeze his cantaloupe head through the mother’s golf ball vagina. It’s important that the female breathe like an idiot to distract her from this fact. Typically like, “Hee hee hooooo. Hee hee hooooo.” Once she figures out that doesn’t do shit, she will demand drugs. Give them to her.
Her cervix will dilate. This only happens in centimeters, as doctors are too good for inches. Once it gets to the size of a lemon, they encourage the woman to start pushing. If you offer the woman your hand at this point, she will break every bone in it. I suggest putting your arms behind your back and having an encouraging expression on your face. The female may poop a little, try not to notice that.
Soon the baby’s head will emerge and the doctors may use salad tongs to help pull it out. It will be slimy. It will have goo on it. It will be making strange noises. It will be bright pink and otherworldly.
This is normal. You still do not have an alien baby.
The doctor then gives the baby its first dose of corporal punishment and smacks it firmly to induce breathing. The baby will start crying. Get used to that.
If you were to try and trace this process back to the point of origin, I would say that it all starts with the rod of evil. Which is the delivery mechanism for the spermatozooooons. Which are manufactured and stored in the balls.
So, in conclusion, babies come from men’s balls of sacky malevolence.
[Originally created for Slacktory]
With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.
Huge thanks in the making of the video to the talented trio of Emm Gryner, Joe Corcoran and Andrew Tidby, plus Evan Hadfield and all at the CSA.
This is beautiful.
These are blogs that are either about the language, or the culture of the country of origin. This list will probably be updated quite often. If you have a language or culture blog and would like it added to the list, tell me then I’ll add it. Blogs that have been inactive for two months or more will be crossed out like
thisbut will be kept on the list for reference.
The Great Debate: The Storytelling of Science (Part 1/2)
The Origins Project at ASU presents the final night in the Origins Stories weekend, focusing on the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science. The Storytelling of Science features a panel of esteemed scientists, public intellectuals, and award-winning writers including well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the stories behind cutting edge science from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future. They demonstrate how to convey the excitement of science and the importance helping promote a public understanding of science.
Video by Black Chalk Productions
Still looking for something special for Mother’s Day? Honor a mother in your life with a gift that saves lives. Your tribute will help deliver urgently needed medical care to people—including pregnant women and new moms—trapped in crises around the world. And you’ll have the opportunity to send a beautiful eCard to your mother, letting her know about your meaningful gift (well in time for Mother’s Day).
Whoa! Number 8 is making my mind doooo thinnnngs.
10 Science Experiments That Looked Like the End of the World
It’s official: The Large Hadron Collider helped to find a new particle, and it didn’t turn the world inside out. Everybody relax! But history is full of strange experiments that people predicted might bring about the end of the human race… and in some cases, they might actually have had a point.
Here are 10 scientific experiments that people believed — rightly or wrongly — had the potential to wipe out humanity.
10. Digging the Kola Superdeep Borehole
Initiated in 1970, this Soviet science experiment sought to drill as deep as possibleinto the Earth’s crust. The borehole on theKola Peninsula dug to a depth of 12 kilometers into the planet’s crust by 1994.
While the Soviets did not encounter the Mole Man during digging, drilling a deep hole into the Earth’s crust (which varies from 30 to 50 kilometers in thickness) could have unleashed seismic forces that nobody could control, much like in the Doctor Who story “Inferno,” which aired that same year.
9. New Zealand’s Tsunami Bomb
Known more for a connection to the Shire than innovation in weapons creation, New Zealand experimented with the use of bombs to create artificial tsunamis, between 1944 and 1945.
By strategically placing bombs, the military scientists behind New Zealand’s Project Seal believed they could divert explosive energy through water, causing tsunamis and tidal waves. After thousands of test explosions, New Zealand ceased experimentation, because military scientists kept having trouble with funneling the explosive energy in a horizontal direction. If New Zealand’s tsunami bomb experiments had been successful, tsunami creation could have gone mainstream — allowing anyone with a conventional explosive device to create widespread chaos and death with ease.
8. Operation Cirrus
In the late 1940s, the United States attempted to divert the path of hurricanes by seeding the storms with dry ice. After scientists poured 180 pounds of dry ice into a hurricane moving east into the Atlantic Ocean, the hurricane made an extremely unpredictable move — and changed directions. The hurricane collided with the town of Savannah, Georgia — no stranger to unusual government intrusions , killing at least one person and causing over $200 million in damage.
This early weather-changing experiment eventually led to the UN’s Environmental Modification Convention, banning weather changing experiments conducted as a means of war.
7. Project Mercury and Volcano
From 1987 to 1992, the Russian military detonated nuclear weapons underground, with the goal of disturbing tectonic plates and electromagnetic fields as a weapon, in Project Mercury and Project Volcano.
These experiments sound like the basis for a bad James Bond movie, but four experimental attempts actually happened — until the 1978 Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques banning experiments of this nature. Extended disruption of tectonic plates could cause a series of severe earthquakes and destabilize electromagnetic fields, leading to a number of theoretical and unforeseen issues.
6. Genetically engineered oil-eating superbugs
In the mid-1970s, General Electric R&D scientist Ananda Chakrabarty introduced a plasmidthat allowed the bacteria Pseudomonas putida to digest petroleum. Chakrabarty designed the bacteria with the hope that it would be used to clean up oil spills. But many people were terrified that these engineered bacteria could run amuck, consume everything in their path, and “out-compete” other bacteria and organisms for survival on Earth. The bacterial dominance theory is a “green” precursor to the grey goo theory — and it might be a more likely possibly.
5. Accidentally creating a black hole
Before the opening of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in New York, public fears amassed over the idea of the RHIC creating an uncontrollable black hole during the course course of its operation. This lead to aplethora of sensational articles in 1999, topped off by a story from the The Sunday Times of London running with the headline “Big Bang machine could destroy Earth.”
The researchers at RHIC study aspects of black holes, but they lack the energy available to create a real gravitational black hole. Whether or not the researchers crossed their fingers when they began experiments at RHIC in 2000 is another story, but as far as I know, we still exist and are not suffering the extreme relativistic effects of a journey through a black hole.
4. U.S. experiments increasing the efficiency of Magnaporthe grisea
Wheat blast and rice blast cause huge damage to world crops, but they’re rare in First World countries. The fungusMagnaporthe grisea leaves lesions on individual plants, that can release thousands of spores and contaminate an enormous area in a single night. The fungus exists in over 80 countries, and it entered the United States in 1996.
During the Cold War, the United States experimented with a weaponized form ofMagnaporthe grisea, which could spread via a spray — or via bombs. Nobody knows whether the U.S. intentionally used the weaponized form, but if these “contagious” crop diseases started spreading uncontrollably, two of the world’s most vital crops would be devastated, causing a worldwide famine.
3. Starfish Prime
Detonating a nuclear weapon outside of the planet’s magnetic field just sounds like a bad idea, but the United States decided to go ahead and detonate six nuclear weapons at high altitude, during 1962’s Starfish Prime(and Operation Fishbowl).
How did this nuclear explosion affect the Earth’s magnetic field? Luckily, the magnetic field “snapped back” into place — causing a strong electromagnetic pulse as a side effect. But if our geomagnetic field had been permanently altered, we could experience a loss protection from cosmic rays and solar winds, along with massive earthquakes, as the continents moved around.
2. Weaponizing the plague
The Plague was responsible for killing up to 60% of the population of Europe in the 14th Century — and then, the Soviet All-Union Institute of Ultra-Pure Biological Preparations succeeded in weaponizing it in the late 1980s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, program director Vladimir Pasechnik went public with this research, which included military preparations to load warheads with a time-released version of the Black Death. In order to handle the plague, the Soviet program encased a powdered form of bacterial agent, Yersinia pestis, in a polymer capsule.
1. The Trinity nuclear test
In the days preceding the detonation of the first nuclear bomb, scientists within the Manhattan Project debated what would happen in the aftermath of detonation, with a few scientists believing the bomb would not explode at all.
Enrico Fermi, however, suggested the detonation of the bomb could create a chain reaction that would set the Earth’s atmosphere ablaze and kill almost all life on the planet. It is disturbing to realize that scientists would go forward, in light of the ruminations of a Nobel Prize winner — but thank goodness, Fermi hypothesized incorrectly.
Researchers Build Protocells from Sand Nanoparticles
Researchers at the Univ. of Bristol have led a new enquiry into how extremely small particles of silica (sand) can be used to design and construct artificial protocells in the laboratory. The work is described in an article published in Nature Chemistry.
Cells are the basic unit of life and are separated from the outside world by a thin organic membrane. A major function of this membrane is to allow certain molecules to enter or leave the cell whilst other molecules are blocked from the cell interior. This allows metabolic processes to take place efficiently and selectively. Controlling membrane permeability is therefore a key challenge when building artificial cells in the form of enclosed chemical systems, particularly so when the membrane is constructed from simple inorganic components.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/05/researchers-build-protocells-sand-nanoparticles
Discovery of a New Deep Chemosynthetic Community
Deepwater Canyons Project Science Team
After several days of lost dives due to bad weather and making dives under difficult conditions, we are today in calm seas exploring an area that was discovered last year during a NOAA mapping cruise. While conducting a seafloor survey, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer found bubbles coming from the seafloor at a site south and offshore of Norfolk Canyon; they thought these bubbles may indicate a new methane seep site, but they had no way of verifying this idea.
Today, we deployed the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from the NOAA Ship Ron Brown to 1,600 meters (nearly a mile deep—our deepest dive yet!) to explore the area around those bubbles. After transecting over soft sediment for a short time, we saw some indications that we were getting close to a probable methane seep. These indications included white patches of bacteria on the sediment surface that feed on the methane and sulfides, plus shells of dead mussels, which are the dominant animals of methane seep communities…
(via: NOAA Ocean Explorer)
(photos: Deepwater Canyons 2013 - Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS)
Hydrothermal vents are one of the coolest ecosystems on earth
Hydrothermal vents are one of the hottest ecosystems on earth